When Partisanship Trumps Patriotism

When even Fox News anchors accuse John Boehner of a “major breach” of U.S. foreign policy, you can safely assume that Boehner has taken a giant step too far.

Both Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith have joined other media commentators and harshly criticized both Boehner and Netanyahu for making secret plans to have the Israeli Prime Minister address Congress—to make a speech critical of the Administration’s Iran policies.

Long-standing rules of protocol for foreign visits require White House involvement and sign-off. In this case, the White House was not only bypassed, but as several media sources noted, the entire Administration was intentionally kept in the dark.

In a major departure from what used to be considered patriotic behavior, Boehner and the GOP have invited a foreign leader to use the floor of Congress to bash an American President.

The policies involved are irrelevant. Millions of Americans were deeply opposed to George W. Bush’s foreign policy decisions. If Democrats had invited a foreign leader to Congress, without letting the White House know, to deliver an address critical of Bush’s policies, Republicans—and most patriotic Americans, including Democrats—would justifiably have found that conduct close to traitorous.

It used to be a given that partisan politics stopped at the water’s edge; that in foreign affairs, we were all Americans. Our policy disputes, no matter how bitter, were rightly seen to be internal arguments. Until now, the behavior Boehner has exhibited would have been unthinkable—on both sides of the aisle.

I’m 73 years old, and I’ve followed politics closely for over fifty of those years. Never in my adult life have I seen a President subjected to the level of disrespect that has been shown to Barack Obama. Even FDR, who certainly aroused deep animosity, didn’t have to deal with the level of pure over-the-top hatred shown to this President. I can only conclude that the election of an African-American President has driven a substantial percentage of white America over the mental edge, to the point where they are willing to undermine their own country if that’s what it takes to show their contempt for its President.

This behavior has to stop.

Barack Obama is THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Deal with it. Love him or hate him—agree with his policies or despise them—feel rage or elation over the fact that a black guy handily won two national elections—the occupant of the Oval Office is entitled to respect.

And We the People are entitled to public servants who understand that the rules apply to them whether their party is in power or not– who understand the need to put aside personal pettiness and partisan vindictiveness when they reach the water’s edge.


  1. I stated recently and will state again that John Boehner is the most dangerous home grown terrorist in this country. He uses the power and control of his political position, bought and paid for by the 1%, for evil. Plunging more of the low and middle income workers who support he and his ilk closer to poverty while making an illegal and treasonal act that can move us into another war. What will it take to stop him? I cannot imagine the Constitution of the United States and the Amendments, even with backing by SCOTUS, allows Boehner’s latest action without repercussions to end his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

  2. You are right Prof K. That black man in THEIR White house just drives them nuts. And it must stop.

  3. As Charlie Pierce points out over and over again, is is not about race, because nothing in this country is about race. Sorry.

  4. Please read the federal Logan Act and give your opinion if Boehner et al are potential felons from what they have done to undercut a President’s present negotiations in reducing Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. What do you think? Greg

  5. Yesterday Phil suggested that we stop coddling irresponsible parasites to our democracy who can’t be bothered to vote, by letting them off with the word “apathetic”. What about those people in Congress who spit in the faces of all scientists on a regular basis? Or the Congressman who called our President a “liar”? Or the Speaker of the House who spits in the face of our choice for Comander in Chief as Sheila points out today?

    The question that needs to be addressed is, is extremism the only cure for extremism? Is calling a spade clearly and distinctly a spade often and loudly mere honesty and the only way to rid our democracy of their scourge?

    We know beyond the shadow of a doubt of the traitorous sell out of America to the Koch’s by the Great Oligarchy Plot yet we tiptoe around it hoping it will go away voluntarily while what we observe is getting worse.

    Parents have a hard time teaching their children how to effectively handle bullies so we have bullies. Some parents effectively teach ” lines in the sand” that should trigger a stand of “eye for eye”.

    My line in the sand has been crossed by anti-American politicians. How about yours?

  6. Patmcc,

    Please. It has nothing to do with President Obama being black. The Republicans were the same way toward President Clinton. The Democrats were that way toward President Bush. It’s a partisan thing, nothing more, nothing less.

  7. Sheila Kennedy, your posting today hits the nail squarely on the head. You state the situation exactly to the point. Now, how can we as common people with small voices, change the situation we find ourselves in? How can we convince those who didn’t vote to become hopeful that their votes are the ONLY way we/they can make changes in the status quo? They/we must realize that our country has been taken over by an enemy that will bring us down to the point of anarchy if we don’t change things.

  8. I am Liberal to the point of Socialism but all of the barriers placed in the path of voters today pales in the face of certain death my grandmother faced at the polls. The GOP can’t stop us from voting. Stupidity can.

  9. Paul K., Clinton and Bush never had to endure the kind of disrespect and blatant contempt that Obama has. And Prof. David, just because Charlie Pierce (an authority of what?) says “nothing in this country is about race” doesn’t make it so. The Republicans have done everything possible, and in this instance maybe even illegal, to undermine his presidency.

  10. Many thanks, Sheila! I have already posed the question about sanctions against Speaker Boehner. Why is he allowed to get by with his outrageous behavior? He is not in charge–or is he? He and Mitch McConnell have only begun their assault on the President and the American people. Voter apathy did this, and we need to do so much better in the next election cycle.

  11. This incident isn’t really about the Republicans disrespecting the President. Boehner, Cruz, Graham, Rubio, McCain, Bachman, Menendez, and most of the rest are really confused about which leader they serve.

    I know you’re Jewish, but we have to admit that America has gotten to the point where Congress more respects the head of Israel than its own elected head.

    Eric Cantor, now deposed, was at the top of the list.

  12. Some people are OK with having a dark skinned President. Some are OK with having an even darker skinned Speaker of the House.

    Some truly hate any skin color not their own. Or religion. Or accent. Or ethnicity. Or economic class. Or (fill in the blank).

    People with such problems typically know but deny what they are.

    So its difficult to distinguish them from those who have other dysfunctions like anti-Americanism or unobjective cognition or merely self serving agendas.

    Partisan means serving primarily an institution or idea. America might not exist if it weren’t for partisan Americans.

    So, are there partisan Americans who are objective and well informed who have no respect for our government and President?

  13. Earl. “The GOP can’t stop us from voting.”

    I have to disagree. They can and have. That’s an integral part of the Great Oligarchy Plot.

  14. I completely agree with you, Sheila. Racism has unleashed a volcano of vitriol. The disrespect is way out of proportion compared with the past.

    As a teenager, I asked myself over and over how the German people could have let the Holocaust happen beneath their very eyes. I think we’re getting a taste of how treating people as “other” and “lesser’ becomes commonplace. And I say, “Never Again”!

  15. All, In case you missed the American Heroes Channel’s showing of “Schindler’s List” on Sunday evening, you _really_ missed it! Liam Neeson’s portrayal of the real Oskar Schindler was beautiful! I wept…again! This Tuesday evening CNN will show another program about the liberation of Auschwitz.

    Immigrant’s wife: You are so right in saying, “Never again”. Neither side should ever again slip into that mindset.

  16. As I reflect on my comment, more needs to be said.

    America needs to have a serious discussion about Israel. A very small Mediterranean country with limited natural resources has outsized influence on the most powerful country on Earth, thousands of miles away.

    How did this happen? How does it happen?

    I read many rightwing blogs, and I can say with authority that an American male who is Republican has a strong likelihood of having great allegiance to Israel and will feel a closer bond of loyalty to Israel than to any American leader who does not have an Israel-first attitude. If the American male is Evangelical, the above is increased, and his loyalty to Israel over an Israel-indifferent American becomes angry and hostile. A rightwing American male Evangelical gun owner will boast of taking up arms against any American who opposes Israel and will cheer when an American opponent of Israel is harmed or killed.

    Some Evangelical church services have Israel flags on the Christian altar and instruct the congregation that it is America’s job to fight for Israel. As America is a Christian nation, as they say, the restoration of Israel is God’s plan, and both a Christian and a Christian country have an obligation to help fulfill God’s Plan. Evangelicals teach that as as America increases Israel, so also will America be increased.

    While Evangelicalism is dwindling, there are still millions of these people out there, and they run for office, vote and join the military.

    AIPAC determines the winner of so many congressional elections, as an AIPAC candidate can outspend an AIPAC opponent, in either the primary or general election. In right-leaning districts, or in some urban areas, opposition by AIPAC is essentially fatal to a candidacy. AIPAC is a single-issue PAC, focused solely on increasing American financial and military aid to Israel, yet AIPAC is never forced to register as a foreign lobby, as any member of Congress who forwards the idea will feel AIPAC’s wrath at the next election.

    On the conservative forums, there is widespread support for Boehner, in what is best described as a sentiment of “Show Obama Who’s Boss.” And that “Boss” sure ain’t Boehner.

    We need to have a serious discussion about Israel, because millions of Americans have a greater loyalty to Israel than to Barack Obama, Joe Biden or any American institution that does not fully support Israel. These conflicted loyalties let Netanyahu know that he is the headmaster who can call the United States Congress to lecture whenever he feels the United States needs remedial schooling.

    That Netanyahu knows he has branches of the American government at his disposal, in full defiance of, and insult to, the United States President (in the President’s own city!) tells us clearly how much of our control comes from without.

    We need to have that talk.

  17. I support the state of Israel, but Netanyahu gives me heartaches. He injected himself in our presidential election where he didn’t belong. We didn’t and don’t need his help to make up our own minds on our own elections, thank you very much. Now Netanyahu is trying to inject American congressional leaders to boost his own political campaign at our President’s expense. Israeli’s can make up their own minds on their elections too without American interference. His boorish behavior is seriously out of bounds.

    It’s sad to see some congressional leaders succumb to being used so transparently. We should be like a family – we may fight each other at home, but no one from outside had better try to get between us because we’ll circle the wagons.

    Mr. Netanyahu is not doing himself, the U.S.A., the state of Israel, or the reputation of our Congress any favors with his behavior.

  18. Nancy, if you want to be vexed further by Netanyahu, watch this:


    What I don’t understand is how he is so sure in his ability to lead America around from 5700 miles away.

    Romney was all but ready to throw Palestinians out of Jerusalem and plant the Israeli flag on Al Aqsa as the “real” capital of Israel.


    2016 will be very challenging to have a President elected who is primarily concerned with America. America has so much poverty, aging infrastructure and income inequality to address, but our presidential elections are heavily influenced by single-issue money that wants a large defense budget and wants much direct and permanent American military intervention in the Middle East, primarily to benefit one country.

    America needs to move away from foreign wars and military spending that doesn’t protect America and to start looking inward and addressing the significant social issues that America hasn’t spent much time examining over the past 14 years.

    I support Israel like I support Peru. Each is just another foreign country. I wish them the best, but that’s about it. America cannot keep devoting its attention, wealth and might for the benefit of a distant foreign country.

    We need a good, strong, socially minded, domestically focused, Democrat in 2016. We can’t afford any more global policy chess players.

  19. I’m a U.S.Marine Veteran and a Patriot! I’m not political in any sense, in fact it wouldn’t bother me at all to see the “Parties” disolved, maybe then our so called Representatives could do their jobs ! I don’t give a damn what race the POTUS is, I do care that he ignores the will of the people. I do care when he says “I didn’t. Know” every time something happens ! I do care that our Military is at its weakest point since W.W. 2, When the world is as dangerous as it has been since W.W. 2. Our current POTUS is NOT A LEADER and has been an embarrassment to this Country on the International Stage on numerous occasions! “AMERICANS FIRST” SEMPER FI !

  20. Congress Adrift: Replace “Israel” in your first comment with “gun rights” and “AIPAC” with “NRA”, then explain to me how that’s any different. The bottom line is, if a representative government is supposed to reflect your views then shouldn’t a supporter of Israel be voting for a candidate that supports Israel?

  21. That’s not to say that I don’t wholeheartedly agree with

    We need a good, strong, socially minded, domestically focused, Democrat in 2016.

    I just don’t see how this particular example of money in politics is any worse than the rest. They’re all symptomatic of a larger problem in American politics.

  22. The NRA represents Americans who have a view of America and have joined an American organization to lobby for stronger American rights noted in American founding documents to, in their eyes, make America a better, freer and safer place for Americans.

    AIPAC is an organization that has its sole purpose using the resources, talent, citizens and riches of the United States of America for the benefit of the nation of Israel, for the security of the nation of Israel, to improve the lives of residents of the nation of Israel.

    In no substantive way is AIPAC analogous to the NRA. The NRA wants to make America a better places and is using American organizations to accomplish its end. AIPAC wants to make Israel a better place and is using American organizations to accomplish its end.

    AIPAC should be forced to register as a foreign agent, thus preventing it from influencing any American election.

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